Policy and Procedures
Responsibility The University Secretary &
Approval date: February 2010
Review date: February 2013
Approved by: The Board of Governors
1 Introduction 3
2 Definition 3
3 Scope 3
4 Policy 4
5. Purpose 4
6 Safeguards 5
7 Procedures for Making a Disclosures 5
8 Procedures for Investigating a Disclosures 6
9 Notification to the subject(s) of the disclosure 7
10 Feedback following the Preliminary Investigation 7
11 Right of Appeal 8
12 The purpose of the Independent Review 8
13 The powers of the person(s) conducting the Independent
14 Reporting of Outcomes 9
Appendix 1 – The Seven Principles of Public Life 10
1.1 The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, which came into effect on 2
July 1999, gives legal protection to staff against being dismissed or
penalised by their employers as a result of disclosing in appropriate
circumstances, certain concerns which are both serious and are likely
to be of wider public interest.
1.2 It is a fundamental term of every contract of employment that an
employee will serve his or her employer faithfully and not disclose
confidential information about the employer’s affairs. All Higher
Education Institutions should have appropriate channels through which
staff and students can make allegations about perceived irregularities
in the running of the institution or the activities of colleagues within the
institution. Provided the allegation is made lawfully, without malice and
in the public interest, the position within the institution of the individual
making the allegation should not be jeopardised. However, where an
individual discovers information which they reasonably believe shows
malpractice or wrongdoing within the organisation then this information
should be disclosed without fear or reprisal and may be disclosed
independently of line-management or other arrangements.
2.1 For the purposes of this document the following definition applies:
‘Staff’: employees, agency workers and contractors.
‘Student’: a person currently enrolled on any programme at the
3.1 The Policy, procedures and guidance set out in this document apply to
all staff (as defined in section 2), students and also to members of the
University’s Board of Governors.
3.2 This document sets out the policy and procedure which permits and
assists individual staff and students who wish to make a disclosure
under the Act. It is recognised that from time to time a number of staff
or students may wish to make disclosures relating to the same issue
(s). However, in order to deal with each disclosure on its own merits,
individual disclosures are required to be made by each individual in
accordance with the policy and procedure set out below.
3.3 It is recognised that a disclosure may implicate one or more staff of the
4.1 The University of West London is committed to the highest standards of
openness, probity and accountability. It takes malpractice seriously. It
seeks to conduct its affairs in a responsible manner taking into account
the requirement of the Public Funding Bodies and the Standards in
Public Life set out in the reports of the Nolan (now Neil) Committee.
(See Appendix 1)
5.1 This policy is intended to assist staff and students who believe they
have discovered malpractice or impropriety. The purpose of the policy
is not to replace informal consideration of any staff concerns by line
managers. It is not designed as a means of questioning financial or
business decisions taken by the University; nor may it be used to
reconsider matters which have already been addressed under the
approved Bullying & Harassment, Grievance or Disciplinary
procedures. The purpose of this policy is not to replace the Student
5.2 This policy is designed to allow individual staff, students and members
of the Board of Governors to raise at a high level their concerns or to
disclose information which the individual believes show malpractice. A
number of policies and procedures, for example, grievance and
disciplinary, are already in place, but this policy is intended to cover
concerns which are in the public interest and may, at least initially, be
investigated separately but might then lead to the invocation of such
5.3 These concerns might include but are not necessarily limited to:
5.3.1 financial malpractice, impropriety or fraud;
5.3.2 failure to comply with a legal obligation or with the rules and regulations
of the University;
5.3.3 breach of health and safety regulations or environmental issues;
5.3.4 criminal activity;
5.3.5 obstruction or frustration of the exercise of academic freedom
5.3.6 academic or professional malpractice;
5.3.7 improper conduct or unethical behaviour;
5.3.8 improper use of authority
5.3.9 suppression or concealment of any of the above.
5.4 The operation of this policy does not impact in any way upon the rights
of the individual to make disclosures to external regulatory bodies in
relation to concerns they may hold.
This policy and its procedures are designed to offer protection to those
staff and students who disclose such concerns only in circumstances
where the disclosure is made:
6.1.1 in good faith; and
6.1.2 without malice; and
6.1.3 in the reasonable belief of the individual making the disclosure
that the issues to be disclosed tends to show malpractice.
The University will treat all such disclosures in a confidential and
sensitive manner. The identity of the individual making the allegation
will be kept confidential, so far as possible as long as this does not
hinder or frustrate the investigation. However, it needs to be
appreciated that the investigation process may reveal the source of the
information and the individual making the disclosure may need to
provide a statement as part of the evidence required. Only in
exceptional circumstances will anonymous allegations be considered.
6.3 Malicious and/or Vexatious Allegations
If an individual makes an allegation in good faith, which is not
confirmed by subsequent investigation, no action will be taken against
that individual. If however, an individual makes malicious or vexatious
allegations, and particularly if they persist in making them, disciplinary
action may be taken against the individual in question (in accordance
with the relevant staff/student procedure).
The University may also consider taking disciplinary action if the
individual is considered to have made allegations for the purposes of
personal gain, has unreasonably bypassed the University’s internal
procedures or has failed to maintain confidentiality during the course of
the internal procedures
7. Procedures for Making a Disclosure
7.1 The Board of Governors have designated the University Secretary &
Registrar in their capacity as Clerk to the Board as the person to whom
a disclosure should be made in the first instance.
7.2 If the disclosure relates to the University Secretary & Registrar then the
disclosure should be made to the Vice Chancellor.
7.3 If the disclosure implicates the University Secretary & Registrar and the
Vice Chancellor the disclosure should be made to the Chair of the Audit
and Risk Committee of the Board of Governors.
7.4 A disclosure made to the Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee may, if
appropriate, be referred back to the University Secretary & Registrar
and/ or the Vice Chancellor or to external independent review.
7.5 The individual wishing to make a disclosure must do so in writing to the
University Secretary & Registrar (or those persons identified at section
7.2 or 7.3 above) who will acknowledge receipt in writing and who will
respond to the individual in writing, within 7 working days. Such
response to include details of the action they intend to take in
accordance with the appropriate procedures set out in Section 8
If, due to a disability, the individual is unable to make a disclosure in
writing, the individual may use a suitable alternative format.
8. Procedures for Investigating a Disclosure
8.1 The designated person will consider the information which has been
made available and will decide if there is a prima facie case to answer.
If there is no prima facie case, the individual making a disclosure will be
informed and may represent the disclosure if further evidence becomes
available. The designated person will arrange for a preliminary
investigation to be conducted.
The Preliminary Investigation
8.1.1 The designated person will identify an independent person (with
appropriate technical expertise) within the University to carry out
a preliminary investigation into the disclosure made.
8.1.2 The designated person will inform the individual who made the
disclosure of the name of the person chosen to conduct the
preliminary investigation and they have 7 days to notify the
designated person in writing if they have any reasonable
objection to that person carrying out the investigation.
8.1.3 The investigation should be conducted as sensitively and
speedily as possible having regard to the nature and complexity
of the issue.
8.1.4 In cases of a disclosure of a financial nature the designated
person may call upon the services of the University’s Internal (or
External) Auditors to assist in the investigation.
8.1.5 The person conducting the preliminary investigation will be
disqualified from subsequent decisions necessary in accordance
with this procedure.
8.1.6 All staff invited to co-operate with an investigation have the right
to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative
during the course of a preliminary investigation.
8.1.7 All students invited to co-operate with an investigation have the
right to be accompanied by a fellow student or Students’ Union
representative during the course of a preliminary investigation.
Outcome of the Preliminary Investigation
8.1.8 The person who carries out the preliminary investigation will
report their findings to the designated person.
8.1.9 Using the information obtained through the preliminary
investigation, and depending upon the nature of the matter
raised, the designated person will decide on the course of action
to be taken. This may be one or more of the following:
(i) Not to proceed any further with the matter
(ii) To refer the matter for further internal or external
(iii) To refer the matter to be dealt with under another
(iv) To refer the matter to the Police
(v) To notify the Higher Education Funding Council for
England (HEFCE) and/or other external agencies as
(vi) To refer the matter to an independent external review
9. Notification to the subject(s) of the disclosure
9.1 Where a disclosure is made the person or persons against whom the
disclosure is made will be told of it by the designated person, provided
with the evidence supporting it (if, or when available) and allowed to
respond before any investigation or further action is concluded.
9.2 The University reserves the right to enforce a suspension where
deemed necessary in accordance with the University’s disciplinary
10. Feedback following the Preliminary Investigation
10.1 The designated person will inform:
(a) the person who has made the disclosure,
(b) the Vice Chancellor (unless the designated person is the Vice-
(c) the University Secretary & Registrar (unless the designated
person is the University Secretary & Registrar)
(d) the Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee
(e) the subject of the disclosure,
of the outcome of the preliminary investigation and further action, if any,
which is to be taken by the University
11. Right of Appeal
11.1 If, following the feedback from the preliminary investigation, no action is
to be taken then the person making the disclosure will be informed of
the reason for this and provided with one further opportunity to remake
the disclosure to another appropriate person, in this instance to the
Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee (where he or she was not the
recipient of the original disclosure) or to the Chair of the Board of
11.2 The Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee/ Chair of the Board of
Governors will decide on an appropriate course of action based on the
information available including, if deemed necessary, the referral of the
disclosure for independent review.
11.3 In deciding whether or not to refer the matter for independent review,
cost considerations will not be an influencing factor.
12. The Independent Review
12.1 The purpose of the independent review will be;
12.1.1 to rule on whether the University’s internal investigation has
been adequately handled;
12.1.2 where it is judged that the investigation was adequately handled
to rule on whether the response to the disclosure was
reasonable in all the circumstances.
13. The powers of the person(s) conducting the Independent
13.1 The powers of the person(s) conducting the independent review are to
make non-binding observations relating to the substantive complaint for
the University to consider; and to rule, in appropriate cases that:
the disclosure was motivated by malice, or some other improper
reason, and whether the individual making the disclosure should be
required to make a contribution to the costs incurred by the University
in independent review;
13.2 The independent review will not entail an oral hearing but the reviewer
will have the power to interview the person making the disclosure any
other persons, including those who have been involved in the handling
of the disclosure. All staff have the right to be accompanied by a
colleague or trade union representative during the course of any
interview. All students have the right to be accompanied by a fellow
student or Students’ Union representative during the course of any
13.3 New evidence or relevant material will be considered at the discretion of
13.4 The report of the independent reviewer will be submitted to the Vice-
Chancellor, to the University Secretary, Registrar and Clerk to the
Board and to the Audit and Risk Committee and to the Governing Body.
14. Reporting of outcomes
14.1 An annual report of all disclosures and of any subsequent actions will
be made by the University Secretary & Registrar & Clerk to the Board
to the Audit and Risk Committee of the Board of Governors. The
University Secretary., Registrar and Clerk to the Board will retain such
reports for a period of not less than seven years.
14.2 In all cases a report of the outcomes of any investigation will be made
to the Audit and Risk Committee of the Board of Governors.
14.3 This policy shall be reviewed after 3 years or earlier if so required by
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The Seven Principles of Public Life
Selflessness : Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms
of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other
material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
Integrity : Holders of public office should not place themselves under any
financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might
influence them in the performance of their official duties.
Objectivity : In carrying out public business, including making public
appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards
and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
Accountability : Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions
and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is
appropriate to their office.
Openness : Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all
the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their
decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly
Honesty : Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests
relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising
in a way that protects the public interest.
Leadership : Holders of public office should promote and support these
principles by leadership and example.
The First Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life
Volume 1: Report (Cm 2850-I)
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